Which part of the conductor's body conveys most expressive information? A spatial occlusion approach
Wöllner, C. (2008). Which part of the conductor's body conveys most expressive information? A spatial occlusion approach. Musicae Scientiae, 12(2), 249-272.
This study investigated the perception of conductors' body movements under different viewing conditions with a multi-modal within-subjects design. Five conductors with different levels of experience each conducted four excerpts from a Beethoven symphony that varied in musical expressiveness. Video recordings were manipulated according to three occlusion conditions: a) only the face was visible, b) only the arms were visible and c) the whole body was visible in simulated peripheral vision. 127 musically trained or untrained participants first watched, without sound, randomly presented video sequences according to these conditions. For each sequence, they were asked to rate affective and communicative items. Complete video sequences with sound were then presented as a reference and rated similarly. Video sequences that presented the conductors' faces resembled the reference significantly better than the arms-only or the peripheral conditions in terms of expressiveness ratings. Sequences showing the arms were judged higher in amount of information. For the movements of all conductors, clear interpretation differences between the four musical excerpts appeared even for conditions without sound. Differences between conductors were related to their general affective behaviour and to evaluations of four conducting experts. The findings generally highlight the importance of facial affective behaviour for expressive conducting. ...